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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero    
IJN
? Kōkūtai

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Rodger Kelly c1970s

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Brian Bennett 1979

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Ryan Toews adds: "The Zero up on a pylon is an A6M2, note the air intake underneath the cowling."

Wartime History
This Zero operated from Tobera Airfield south of Rabual and was abandoned.

Wreckage
During the middle 1970s, this Zero was recovered from Richard Gault's Plantation. When recovered, one of the 7.7mm machine guns was still aboard, but the plane was otherwise gutted. The Zero was cosmetically restored, and placed on a pole with a green/gray/pink color scheme, and supported by guide wires near Malmaluan at Coastwatchers Lookout. Later, repainted with green upper surfaces.

Brian Bennett adds:
"Placed on the pole made of universal steel beam, about 8 x 6". After it was placed on the mount an additional support of a length of 1 and half inch galvanized steel water pipe was placed to take the weight of the engine and propeller. Heavy gauge fencing wire was fixed from each wingtip to a ground anchor point so as to counter act side movement. There are quite strong winds through the memorial park during both seasons. Eventually unknown persons from the local indigenous community realized that there were cheap building materials at hand so the wing restraining wires were cut off and stolen and a one yard section of the engine support pipe was cut out. With the strong winds frequent in the area the aerodynamic structure of the aircraft made it want to fly so constant rocking motion eventually caused the main mount to fail."

Rodger Kelly adds:
"This Zero roughly restored was placed on a pole at Coastwatchers Memorial Lookout. At one stage, it fell off its perch and was then trucked back into town, where it was placed in the yard of the Rabaul Technical College, a fellow by the name of Michael Pearson being responsible for it. Michael recovered a lot of stuff from the wrecks in the harbour if my memory serves me correctly. I last saw it in the Technical College about 1985, or earlier."

Around 1979, the supporting pole was damaged by vandalism, and the aircraft fell over during high winds, and damaged when it hit the ground, breaking one of the wings. Afterwards, the Zero was removed by Brian Bennett to the Department of Civil Aviation at Lakunai Airport to prevent further damage and later placed in the yard of the Rabaul Technical College. Later, removed by Peter Leggett of the Kula Lodge and sunk in Talili Bay as a SCUBA dive site.

References
Thanks to Ryan Toews and Brian Bennett for additional information
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 37 (upper)
Diving & Snorkeling Papua New Guinea page 115
"Part of a Japanese Zero Fighter is among the wrecks. The marking bouy is near a garden of giant clams."

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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